Monday, 30 January 2012
Do you know Auden's poem on suffering - Musees des Beaux Arts - in which he talks about suffering going on at the edge of our ordinary lives, such that we almost fail to register it.
I've been reading two novels about suffering: the first, Jonathan Buckley's Telescope, in which the narrator, though fatally ill, presents us with a delectably calm, wry tour of family life. His suffering is almost a footnote, but the book is steeped in a sort of wistful acknowledgement that life is going on, but not the sick man's. Not a hint of self-pity but it is a wonderful sideways look at life - a bit like what Icarus might have seen, before he hit the water.
And then I've begun A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Fifty pages in and hooked. Here is wonderful, engaging, intimate story-telling - people's small, insignificant lives in the foreground, mighty events just noted in the background, although their ripples can strike at any moment. And that's why I disliked reading, and couldn't watch Birdsong. That writing is the polar opposite of Mistry and Buckley.
Posted by Katharine McMahon at 13:00